Hotel or Home?
You have two accommodation options: hotels and casas particulares (private homes, apartments, or spare rooms rented by the owners). If a pool and Internet connection are important, go for the hotel. Casas, meanwhile, are closer to the “real” Cuba—though not so close that you’re bathing with a bucket.
Hotel Nacional de Cuba (from $170; hotelnacionaldecuba.com):Historic and grand and best visited in early December, when the Havana Film Festival moves in.
Meliá Habana (from $105; es.solmelia.com): The seaside high-rise in upscale Miramar strives for its five stars; an extra $30 a night buys “royal service” with private concierge and a pillow menu, among other perks.
Hotel Santa Isabel (from $110; habaguanexhotels.com): Overlooking Plaza de Armas, the colonial gem is where Jimmy Carter and Sting stayed when they were in town.
Casa Habana ($25; Calle Habana No. 209; firstname.lastname@example.org) This bustling home in the heart of Habana Vieja has ambience in spades, with art, antiques, and a rooftop terrace for sunset mojitos.
Casa Lilly ($35; Calle G No. 301; casalilly.com) The swank apartment in a Vedado skyscraper is run by a hip, multilingual hostess. Take breakfast on the breathtaking wraparound balcony.
Casa de María Elena (from $30; Ave. 17 No. 20106; bookinghavana.com) Renting this three-bedroom luxury home in the tony suburb of Siboney is like staying in “Wilson Pickett’s 1950s mansion,” says guest Tom Williams as he lounges by the pool, beer in hand.